Pip (South Park)
|South Park episode|
Pip encountering an escaped convict. The episode, which is a retelling of the Dickens novel Great Expectations, has a unique look within the series.
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Eric Stough|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||November 29, 2000|
"Pip" (also known as "Great Expectations") is the fourteenth episode in the fourth season of the American animated television series South Park. The 62nd episode of the series overall, it first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 29, 2000. The episode is a parody and comedic retelling of Charles Dickens's 1861 novel Great Expectations, and stars the South Park character Pip, who assumes the role of Pip, the protagonist of the novel, who is his namesake. "Pip" features no other regular characters from the show. The story is narrated in a live action parody of the anthology television series Masterpiece Theatre, with the narrator played by Malcolm McDowell.
Pip as a character was established to originate from the Dickens novel early on in the series, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone had the idea of retelling Great Expectations with the character for a long time. "Pip" has a unique design and animation compared to other episodes. To achieve this look, a lot of assets had to be built from scratch. This was a demanding task for the South Park studios at the time, and production of the episode was stretched out across several months. The concept of the episode changed significantly during this time; for example, the original plan was for the episode to be a musical.
Parker and Stone claim that "Pip" is one of the least popular episodes. The episode was written by Parker and directed by animation director Eric Stough. Since its original airing, it has been re-run infrequently on Comedy Central.
The story is set in a 19th-century-like England, in a small town called Draftingshire-Upon-Topsmart. An orphaned Pip is on his way to visit his parents' grave. While there, an escaped convict appears and threatens Pip. Pip, out of the goodness of his heart, aids the convict by giving him food and cutting the convict's handcuffs. Pip then goes home, where his sister's husband Joe reads an advertisement about a Miss Havisham seeking a boy to play with her daughter. Pip goes and meets the daughter, Estella, who constantly insults him. Miss Havisham hires Pip and throughout their playtimes he eventually falls in love with Estella.
Pip fears Estella could never marry a commoner like him. However, an offer comes for Pip from an anonymous benefactor to move to London and learn how to become a gentleman. Pip assumes the benefactor is Miss Havisham and accepts. In London, Pip meets his roommate Mr. Pocket who tells the story of Miss Havisham: she got engaged but was left at the altar, causing her to stop all the clocks in the house and never leave the house again. Pip spends the rest of his time in London learning how to be a gentleman.
After his time in London, he shows up at Miss Havisham's house, where she tells Pip that he can find Estella at a party at the palace. At the ball, Pip and Estella dance, and talk about how Pip is now a fine young gentleman. Estella says that she has no heart, and cannot love. Just before Pip asks Estella to be his girlfriend, her boyfriend, a modernly American seventeen-year-old named Steve, enters the scene.
Pip, saddened, runs to tell Miss Havisham, only to find that she approves of Steve. Miss Havisham is glad that Estella has broken Pip's heart. Miss Havisham explains that she has Estella break men's hearts to use their tears to power her "Genesis Device". Miss Havisham desires youth and wants to use the device to switch bodies with Estella. She then uses robot monkeys to attack Pip. Pip escapes and falls unconscious, awakening at an old house with Joe and Pocket. The anonymous person who sent Pip to London is revealed to be the escaped convict Pip met at the beginning of the story. Because of Pip's kindness, the convict led a life of goodness and became a millionaire. Sending Pip to London was his way of repaying Pip for the good that Pip did for him. The four of them, Pip, Joe, Pocket, and the convict, decide to stop Miss Havisham.
The group returns to the mansion discovering a bunch of men and boys with broken hearts and Miss Havisham powering up her device. Despite difficulties, such as the convict getting killed by an acid-spewing Miss Havisham, Pip manages to convince Estella to leave the machine, destroying it and setting Miss Havisham on fire. Fleeing the burning mansion, Pip's group and the hostage males escape as Estella finally declares her love for Pip. Ending the story, the narrator states that the characters "all lived happily ever after, except for Pocket, who died of Hepatitis B".
Production and broadcast
Creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker had the idea to recreate Charles Dickens' Great Expectations in the style of South Park from the very beginning of the series. The character of Pip has been a minor character on South Park from the onset of the series, having appeared in the pilot episode, "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe". Pip had a somewhat bigger role in the original, unaired version of the pilot, but most of his scenes have been cut from the reworked and shorter broadcast version. One of these cut scenes, a short sequence in the school cafeteria that introduces Pip, was reinserted into the show's fifth episode "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig". (As the scene came from the pilot, it was created with traditional paper cutout stop motion animation.) In the scene, Stan asks Pip about his peculiar name, but Cartman interrupts Pip during his answer. Pip's reply – "my father's family name being Pirrip and my Christian name Phillip, my infant tongue--" – is identical to the opening line of the novel Great Expectations, which is narrated by its protagonist, Pip.
Production for the episode started after the first run of the series' fourth season, which consisted of four episodes. At the beginning of the second run of six episodes (which started broadcasting in June 2000), the episode was assigned a production code number of 405 (meaning the 5th episode of the 4th season), and it was planned to air in June or July that year. However, given the complicated nature of the episode's look, where a lot of things had to be designed from scratch, the studio did not have enough time to finish the episode that summer, and it was moved to the next batch of episodes. As it was already in production before the run, "Pip" was a "banked" episode of South Park, one of the first in the series' history. Whereas most episodes of South Park are done within a week, from scratch, the creators sometimes try to have one episode "in the bank" – meaning that they have "at least half-start[ed]" animating it. This way they can take off a few days at one point during the two-month-long, demanding run, and then go back and finish work on the banked show. After finishing the previous episode, "Helen Keller! The Musical", which aired on November 22, 2000, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving (November 23), the creators went to spend time with their families for the holiday, and then came back on Sunday, November 26, to finish "Pip". The episode aired the next Wednesday, on November 29, 2000 on Comedy Central in the United States, as the 14th episode of the season, and the fourth episode of the winter run. Since its original airing, it has been re-run infrequently on Comedy Central.
The episode, directed by South Park animation director Eric Stough, has a unique look compared to most other episodes of the series. The creators wanted a different design for Pip's England featured in the episode. For example, the directions for the exterior scenes were to make them look like they are "right out of a Dickens novel". To achieve the style, a lot of assets had to be built from scratch, including many new characters with "new mouths with rotted out teeth" that were used for most of them. At the beginning of the episode, Pip is dressed in more ragged clothing than he usually wears in South Park. Later, when he becomes a gentleman in London, he is wearing his usual South Park attire, including his bow tie. The character of Pocket is designed to look similar to the children in the 1974 Rankin/Bass animated Christmas television special 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
From its inception to its broadcast, there were a lot of changes in how the episode is presented. Originally, "Pip" was going to be a musical episode, the first South Park musical since the 1999 movie South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. At one point, the plan was to have Pip tell his own story to the South Park Elementary class. An early storyboard scene shows "Pip walk[ing] up to the class holding a HUGE manuscript of paper. It could be a novel." Beginning his story in the classroom, he starts by introducing the origins of his name, only to be interrupted by Cartman – much like the scene in "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig". In the end, the finished episode did not include the boys or any other regular characters. As Stone and Parker explained, "bookend[ing] it with the kids or hav[ing] the kids listening to the story" would be too formulaic for their tastes, so they decided to do the episode without the South Park boys, precisely "[b]ecause it's a bad idea." Having an episode's worth of story told in front of the class was later used in the eighth season episode "Woodland Critter Christmas", which has Cartman telling a Christmas themed story (in a plot twist). The ending of the story's narration in that episode resembles the ending in "Pip". In "Pip", the narrator ends the story with the line "And they all lived happily ever after, except for Pocket, who died of Hepatitis B." In "Woodland Critter Christmas", Cartman finishes the story by saying "And they all lived happily ever after. Except for Kyle, who died of AIDS two weeks later." Another idea was to have Chef narrate the episode, in the style of Masterpiece Theatre. In the end, the creators decided to do the Masterpiece parody in live action, with the narrator played by Malcolm McDowell. The reason behind the introduction was to make it clear to the viewers that it is going to be an "extremely different experience" from the other episodes, and that they are not going to see the regular characters of the show. The creators said that they did this having learned the lesson from the second season episode "Terrance and Phillip in Not Without My Anus" – which also revolves entirely around two minor characters – about the necessity of making the audience aware that they are not to expect to see the regular characters any time during the episode. Both McDowell and the two creators have spoken highly of each other. Parker and Stone said that shooting with McDowell was a positive experience, and that he told old stories about the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange – which McDowell starred in –, and its director Stanley Kubrick.
"Pip" features regular voice acting from Parker and Stone for most characters (with Stone doing the voice of Pip), as well as Eliza Schneider (credited both by her real name and her pseudonym "Blue Girl") providing the voice for Estella. Joe was voiced by South Park staff writer Kyle McCulloch, because, according to Stone, McCulloch "can do really good British voices, because he grew up in Canada watching a bunch of British TV."
Cultural references and themes
"Pip" serves as an explanation of the origins of its central character, as well as a retelling of the 1861 Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations. The episode is, of course, not a straight adaptation of the novel, but a comedic retelling thereof. As such, the episode's main aim is not to represent Great Expectations, but to use it for the purpose of comedy.:184 Some of Pip's speech, such as "breaky-wakey out of prison" and "that's a lot of money-woney" is a reference to Malcolm McDowell's character Alex's speech in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange. Some of the central characters of the novel appear in the episode. These include Pip, as well as Joe (Pip's brother-in-law), Mrs Joe (Pip's sister), Miss Havisham, Estella Havisham, Herbert Pocket, and the escaped convict. For most of the episode, the plot stays relatively faithful to the novel's basic story. At one point however, the episode introduces major digressions from the novel, mainly Miss Havisham's fictional objects of modern, evil technology, such as her Genesis Device and robot monkeys.:186 The ending of the episode has been viewed as "a joke about contemporary Hollywood's inability to produce entertainment that does not depend on idiotic spectacle.":186
The way the story is presented – South Park Classics – is a parody of Masterpiece Theatre (now continued as Masterpiece Classic), a long-running drama anthology television series airing on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States, best known for presenting adaptations of classic works of literature. (Incidentally, Masterpiece Theatre featured an adaptation of Great Expectations in 1999.) Malcolm McDowell's portrayal of the narrator parodies Alistair Cooke, "a British person" himself, who was the host of Masterpiece Theatre between 1971 and 1992. The setup has been viewed as "a joke about America's (or more specifically, the typical PBS subscriber's) haughty search for cultural enrichment in the English classics", based on the context of "[t]he cultural authority of the British, so long courted by the American culture industries.":172
Reception and home release
"Pip" is a relatively unpopular episode of the series. According to creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, it is "probably one of the least popular episodes of South Park" they have ever produced, and that "most people [...] pretty much hated it." In 2004, Stone said that he considers the episode "really cool" and "really good". In a 2011 Entertainment Weekly feature, the two named what they consider the best 15 episodes of South Park, along with the 53 worst. "Pip" was number 49 on the "Worst" list (following the first 48 spots which collectively consisted of every episode from the first three seasons). Parker said that "Everyone, including us, hates 'Pip'", and Stone said "I don't hate it. But it was like, 'Why did you guys do that?'" The creators said that recreating Great Expectations in South Park style "seemed like a decent enough idea, except that [the novel] kinda sucks", especially its ending. They have concluded that while they sometimes want to do an episode that is different in style and presentation to the other episodes, it is necessary to have it involve the regular characters, otherwise audiences will not like it.
In his paper about the episode, Jeffrey Sconce said that the episode ultimately "proved a rather self-indulgent [...] effort", and that it had failed "in terms of viewer response and ratings.":184 In their review of the fourth season DVD, IGN called the episode "a serious fizzle", saying that the creators "don't always hit a home run."
"Pip" was released on the DVD South Park: The Complete Fourth Season in the United States on June 29, 2004. The DVD contains a short audio commentary on every episode from Parker and Stone. Episodes of season 4 have also been released digitally, on services such as Amazon Video, the iTunes Store, and Xbox Live Marketplace. Like most episodes of South Park, "Pip" was formerly available to watch for free on the show's website, SouthParkStudios.com, but is now available to watch as part of the Hulu Plus subscription-based streaming video service.
- Stone, Matt; Parker, Trey (October 11, 2011). "'South Park': Matt Stone and Trey Parker Name Their 15 Best Episodes (and 53 Worst): WORST: 49. Pip". EW.com. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2004). South Park – The Complete Fourth Season (Audio commentary for "Pip") (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- South Park – The Original Unaired Pilot (DVD). Warner Home Video. 2003. (Included with purchase of the following at Best Buy, USA: Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2003). South Park – The Complete Second Season (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.)
- Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2002). South Park – The Complete First Season: Episode Commentary (Audio commentary for "Cartman Gets an Anal Probe") (CD). Comedy Central.
- Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2002). South Park – The Complete First Season: Episode Commentary (Audio commentary for "An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig") (CD). Comedy Central.
- "FAQ: How come the part in 'An Elephant Makes Love To A Pig' when Pip was talking to Cartman and Stan looked like it was from 'Cartman Gets An Anal Probe' with the different colours and animation?". South Park Studios. July 23, 2001. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt; Sterling, Dan (1997). "South Park: 'An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig' script" (PDF). Comedy Central, South Park Studios. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Dickens, Charles (1881). "Chapter I.". Great Expectations. Estes and Lauriat. p. 21.
My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.
- Williams, Wendy J. (May 9, 1999). "Fresh 'Expectations'; Despite the costumes, taking a modern approach". Boston Herald. p. 7.
(Poor Pip. Recently, even the kids on Comedy Central's 'South Park' take pot shots at him. 'South Park's' Pip, a boy with a British accent, is continually hit and spit upon by the show's other first graders. After being teased about his name, he says, 'My father's name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both ... ' But Cartman interrupts. 'We don't give a rat's ass! French people p--- us off!')
- "It May Be Winter In 'South Park' But The Boys Are Ready For Summer With All-New Episodes Beginning Wednesday, June 21 At 10:00 P.M.* On Comedy Central" (Press release). Comedy Central. June 5, 2000. Archived from the original on August 17, 2003. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
In the first musical since 'South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut,' the show's creators present their rendition of the beloved classic novel, 'Great Expectations.'
- Song, Charles. News post dated June 27, 2001. In: "Behind the Scenes: News Archive: June 2001". South Park Studios. Archived from the original on July 23, 2001. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- "The 'South Park' Boys Are Going To 4Th Grade And Their Lives Will Never Be The Same Again. '4Th Grade' Premieres Wednesday, November 8 At 10:00 P.M.* On Comedy Central" (Press release). Comedy Central. October 30, 2000. Archived from the original on August 17, 2003. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
South Park goes to London with Pip as he takes the class on a journey back to his roots. With a nod to Masterpiece Theater, Chef narrates South Park's very special rendition of Charles Dickens' Classic 'Great Expectations,' date TBD.
- Parker, Trey; Stone, Matt (2007). South Park – The Complete Tenth Season (Audio commentary for "A Million Little Fibers") (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- "FAQ: Why don't they ever show the following episodes anymore:Not Without My Anus, Pip, Death, and Jared Has Aides?". South Park Studios. November 14, 2004. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Parker, Trey (2000). "South Park: 'Pip' script" (PDF). Comedy Central, South Park Studios. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Snead, Elizabeth (June 20, 2000). "'South Park': Pedophilia, abortion, uncensored". USA Today. p. 04.D.
Parker and Stone are working on an upcoming musical episode based on Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, focusing on the British boy, Pip. 'Pip is huge in England, where they love it if you make fun of them,' Stone says.
- McDonough, Kevin (June 21, 2000). "'South Park' enters fourth season". Record-Journal. Meriden, Connecticut. p. 17.
This season [...] the gang will put on a singing and dancing version of 'Great Expectations.'
- "'Pip' storyboard". Comedy Central, South Park Studios. 2000. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Zeidner, Lisa (November 19, 2000). "A Study Guide for 'South Park'". The New York Times. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- "Wednesday November 29, 2000 evening highlights". The Victoria Advocate. Victoria, Texas. November 29, 2000. p. 6C.
Chef narrates a tribute to 'Great Expectations' when the boys follow Pip on his trip back to London.
- "FAQ: In the episode 'Pip', who is the British narrator?". South Park Studios. November 12, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Malcolm McDowell. Fan Expo Canada. August 28, 2011 "I met [Trey and Matt] somewhere at a party or something, and they said, 'Would you ever do one?' And I thought, of course they meant a voice. I went, 'Yes! Of course!' And I get there, and it wasn't a voice, it was actually me saying 'I'm a very British person.' I love those guys. I'd do anything for those guys, they're just so talented." (Recording: User "CraneMoon" (August 30, 2011). "Malcolm McDowell On CSI, South Park, Caligula and Evilenko". 1:28. Retrieved January 3, 2012.)
- Reesman, Bryan (June 3, 2011). "Malcolm McDowell: Ultraviolent Past, Satanic Future". Attention Deficit Delirium. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Coleman, Jason (September 3, 2008). "Malcolm McDowell - A 213 Exclusive Interview!". The213.net. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- "FAQ: Who does the voices for the characters on South Park?". South Park Studios. April 23, 2002. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Sconce, Jeffrey (2003). "15 – Dickens, Selznick, and South Park". In Glavin, John. Dickens on Screen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 171–187. ISBN 978-0-521-00124-3.
- "South Park Does Dickens In A Special Rendition Of The Classic 'Great Expectations' Debuting Wednesday, November 29 At 10:00 P.M.* On Comedy Central" (Press release). Comedy Central. November 20, 2000. Archived from the original on August 17, 2003. Retrieved January 3, 2012.
- "McDowell to Discuss 'Clockwork Orange' Sunday at Brewvies". The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. June 1, 2001. p. B4.
In an episode of 'South Park' last season, a live-action McDowell served as an Alistair Cooke-like narrator for an adaptation of 'Great Expectations,' introducing himself not by name but with, 'Good evening -- I'm an English person.'
- Patrizio, Andy (July 7, 2004). "South Park: The Complete Fourth Season - DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- "Pip". In: South Park – The Complete Second Season (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment. 2003.
- "South Park: Season 4, Episode 14 "Pip"". Amazon.com / Amazon Video. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- "TV Shows - South Park, Season 4". iTunes Store. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- "South Park: Season 4". Xbox Live Marketplace. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
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